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Neutral Zone Wrap: Who's on the rebound?

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

The regular season is here. Hallelujah!

Hope you had a relaxing summer, one where absolutely nothing happened except for the anticipation of meaningful NHL action. OK, so maybe you moved to another country and got married. But even if those events took place in the last few months, then your sights must have remained locked on hockey.

You may have forgotten some material since the Blackhawks shocked the Bruins (and us) in Game 6 of the Cup Final. Hope you have perused the other site resources and articles and feel sufficiently caught up. But if you're craving one more piece to get you going, then you're in luck.

There's always room for improvement. Not only in your leagues but also for actual NHLers who are poised to step up their game. Here are a few hopefuls who may not be getting the most attention or may be maligned for recent indiscretions but could serve as fantasy gold. (NOTE: These individuals could end up depreciating in value but that would depend on uncontrollable factors or how you use them in your lineup. In other words, plan accordingly.)

(For other related examples, be sure to check out Jan Levine's sleepers article.)

Brad Boyes, F, Panthers: Posted very respectable numbers with the Islanders in 2012-13 (35 points in 48 games, including 13 on the power-play) but was probably pushed out due to a forward glut. On a relatively young Panther lineup, Boyes was brought aboard on a tryout basis and has seamlessly fit in on a line with Kris Versteeg and rookie Aleksander Barkov. Don't expect any eye-popping figures; somewhere in the 50-point range will suffice.

Jannik Hansen, F, Canucks: The recipient of a new four-year, $10 million contract will be asked to assume more responsibility. In his five-year career, the Danish winger has excelled as a shorthanded contributor and is slowly working his way as a dependable top-six forward (note the 27 in 47 last year). With Zack Kassian maintaining his penchant for on-ice stupidity, it would seem Hansen is firmly positioned as the second right winger on the Canucks' depth chart and a spot on one of the power-play units.

Jussi Jokinen, F, Penguins: Fine, so Jokinen became an immediate success (11 in 10) after arriving from Carolina in April. But it was presumed the Finn wouldn't be able to repeat this feat skating on the third or fourth unit. In training camp and exhibition action, he has displayed great chemistry with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal (including a hat-trick against Columbus). And it seems that anyone who teams up with that duo should be destined for something better than average. It's funny to think the Canes are still paying a quarter of Jokinen's salary as part of their giveaway sweepstakes.

Ryan Miller, G, Sabres: You might be surprised to see the 2010 Vezina winner listed in this category but Miller belongs here. His stats last season 'slipped' to a 17-17-5 record with a 2.81 GAA, mainly a factor of a fresh Sabres squad that finished last in the Northeast. Some of the media and fan pressure looks like it eventually affected Miller, although he kept his cool and proved to be Buffalo's best player on many nights. Fortunately, there are three factors working in his favor. First off, Miller will undoubtedly want to prove his detractors wrong and step up his game. Secondly, his long-term contract expires next summer and he will want to exhibit his top skills for a new deal. And finally, the starter from Vancouver 2010 will be motivated for Sochi in his bid to reclaim the #1 job for the US squad. (Jonathan Quick appears to be the current frontrunner.)

Sami Salo, D, Lightning: A lot more was expected of Salo after inking a deal with the Bolts before last season. After all, the now-39 year old has always been known for his cannon from the point. And although Tampa finished in the top-half of the league in power-play percentage (13th at 19%), he wasn't a major factor (seven PPPs, 17 overall) and only managed a shot per game (with a paltry two goals). With a season in the Sunshine State under his belt and no Vincent Lecavalier to hinder backline man-advantage opportunities, expect Salo to increase his frequency hitting the net and continue scaring the bejeezus out of opposing goalies.

Honorable mention: Justin Abdelkader, F, Detroit; Josh Bailey, F, NY Islanders; Colin Greening, F, Ottawa; Adam Larsson, D, New Jersey; Tim Thomas, G, Florida

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Player News
Trevor van Riemsdyk
van Riemsdyk (Wrist) Out Monday
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, CHI
7:58 AM
News: Trevor van Riemsdyk (wrist) will not travel with his team to Anaheim, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Analysis: This essentially rules Trevor van Riemsdyk out for Game 5 against the Ducks on Monday, but he could still play in this series. He was recently recalled from the AHL, and could be used as a depth defender, however it's unclear just how healthy van Riemsdyk actually is at this point.

Brandon Saad
Blackhawks' Saad Dominant In Game 4 Win
Brandon Saad, LW, CHI
6:42 AM
News: Brandon Saad tallied a shorthanded goal and a pair of assists in Saturday's Game 4 double-overtime win over the Ducks.
Analysis: Brandon Saad notched the shortie when Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin got tied up with a referee during his team's first-period power play, allowing the Blackhawks winger to break away unmarked to the net. It went down as his first goal since Game 1 of the second-round matchup with the Wild, but that wouldn't be where his night would stop. Saad had a hand in each of the Blackhawks' next two goals to finish with a game-high plus-3 rating.

Kyle Palmieri
Ducks' Palmieri Notches Assist In Loss
Kyle Palmieri, RW, ANA
6:36 AM
News: Kyle Palmieri registered an assist and five hits in Saturday's Game 4 loss to the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Kyle Palmieri often found himself near the Blackhawks' crease, but was unable to capitalize on it until he got a stick on the puck before it led to an eventual goal by teammate Emerson Etem. The 24-year-old winger has a goal and three assists in his 13 postseason matches.

Ryan Kesler
Ducks' Kesler Pots Goal In Defeat
Ryan Kesler, C, ANA
6:33 AM
News: Ryan Kesler netted a goal and fired off three shots in his 27:16 of ice time in Saturday's Game 4 double-overtime loss to the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Ryan Kesler has been mostly effective this series in limiting the impact of Jonathan Toews, even though the Blackhawks center did record two points in Game 4. However, Kesler at least mitigated the damage by scoring his first point of the series, while kicking off a string of three unanswered goals in a 37-second span. The Ducks wouldn't be able to parlay that third-period surge into a victory, but their fortunes could change when the series shifts to Anaheim on Monday for Game 5.

Emerson Etem
Ducks' Etem Pots Goal In Game 4
Emerson Etem, RW, ANA
6:30 AM
News: Emerson Etem cleaned up a Francois Beauchemin shot attempt to score the Ducks' first goal of the match in an eventual 5-4 double-overtime loss to the Blackhawks in Saturday's Game 4.
Analysis: Emerson Etem now has three goals in the postseason, despite missing two games of the previous series against Calgary as a healthy scratch. It appears coach Bruce Boudreau values Etem's energy more than Tomas Fleischmann's experience at this stage in the playoffs, so don't expect a switch to be made for Game 5.

Francois Beauchemin
Ducks' Beauchemin Sets Up Goal In Game 4
Francois Beauchemin, D, ANA
6:26 AM
News: Francois Beauchemin registered an assist, three shots on goal, and four blocks in Saturday's Game 4 loss to the Blackhawks.
Analysis: It's the 27th career postseason helper for Francois Beauchemin, who tied Scott Niedermayer for first among defensemen in franchise history. The set up for Emerson Etem allowed Beauchemin to atone for his miscue earlier in the game that allowed the Blackhawks' Brandon Saad to pot the game's first goal.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks, Andersen Fall In Double OT In Game 4
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
6:24 AM
News: Frederik Andersen stopped 35 of 40 shots in the Ducks' Game 4 double-overtime loss to the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Frederik Andersen was lucky the Ducks stayed alive in this game as long as they did, since he provided one of his weaker performances of the postseason. He was trailing 3-1 in the third period before his mates picked him up with three unanswered goals in the span of 37 seconds to give the team a 4-3 lead. However, Andersen couldn't close the door on the road, as Patrick Kane notched the equalizer later in the period before Antoine Vermette tallied the game-winner 5:37 into the second overtime. Andersen's .875 save percentage on the night was his lowest mark of the postseason and his worse since April 8 against the Stars.

Corey Crawford
Crawford, Blackhawks Score Double OT Win In Game 4
Corey Crawford, G, CHI
6:20 AM
News: Corey Crawford denied 47 of 51 shots as the Blackhawks pulled out a 5-4 double-overtime victory over the Ducks in Saturday's Game 4.
Analysis: Corey Crawford looked like he would cruise to a fairly comfortable victory when Brent Seabrook's goal gave the team a 3-1 cushion with a little over 12 minutes remaining in the match, but that wouldn't be the case. The Ducks then responded with three unanswered goals in 37 seconds to take the lead, quieting the rapid United Center crowd. Instead of pulling the goalie in favor of Scott Darling, coach Joel Quenneville stuck with Crawford, and then watched as he made several key saves while the Blackhawks sent the game to overtime. He would continue to shine in the extra 25:37 of action, stopping all 21 shots he faced in that span before Antoine Vermette notched the game-winner. Despite the bumpy outing, look for Crawford to be back in the crease for Monday's Game 5 in Anaheim.

Teuvo Teravainen
Hawks' Teravainen Back In Lineup For Game 4
Teuvo Teravainen, LW, CHI
5/23/2015
News: Teuvo Teravainen, who was a healthy scratch for Game 3 in the Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals, will be in the lineup for Game 4 against the Duck, ESPN Chicago reports.
Analysis: Both Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette were healthy scratches for Game 3. The lack of offense in the 2-1 loss in Game 3 gave Hawks' coach Joel Quenneville a change of mind for Game 4. Teravainen and Vermette rejoined Patrick Sharp on the Blackhawks' third line during the team's morning skate at the United Center on Saturday.

Antoine Vermette
Hawks' Vermette Back In Lineup For Game 4
Antoine Vermette, C, CHI
5/23/2015
News: Antoine Vermette, who was a healthy scratch for Game 3 in the Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals, will be in the lineup for Game 4 on Saturday night against the Ducks, ESPN Chicago reports.
Analysis: Both Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen were healthy scratches for Game 3. The lack of offense in the 2-1 loss in Game 3 gave Hawks' coach Joel Quenneville a change of mind for Game 4. Teravainen and Vermette rejoined Patrick Sharp on the Blackhawks' third line during the team's morning skate at the United Center on Saturday.

 
 
 
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